I’m Not Black Pixel, Yet

All the speakers at the Release Notes conference were inspiring. The one that most met my need was Daniel Pasco from Black Pixel®.

Dan related how important a fully integrated Quality Assurance team is to his company’s success. Dan’s QA team is involved from defining the initial specifications through delivery of the final product. That means when the app gets to the testing stage, those doing QA know exactly what the app is expected to do and how it has evolved during the life-cycle of the project. They have a test plan capable of taking the app to its design limits because they know where those limits are.

As an independent beta tester I’m unlikely to have that kind of access to the design process. The greatest barrier for those in my situation is geography — I can’t run down the hall to sit with a developer. But there are ways to mitigate some of the disadvantages.

Dan has outlined how Black Pixel does Quality Assurance. It’s posted online. In a five-part series he writes about bad QA scenarios then discusses what his company has done to make great QA pay for itself.

I’m not Black Pixel, but I am incorporating as many of their processes as I can into my test plan. Good communication with the developer, early in the build, increases the probability of launching a best-in-class app right out of the box.

@cincygolfgrrl

Business Plan 1.0

As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, for me being retired means every day is Saturday. I really like being retired, except in the winter. When the temperature gets below 20ºF (about 6ºC), and the wind is howling, I don’t want to leave the house. I need something to keep my brain occupied.

I have a passion for technology, particularly that which emanates from that fruit company in Cupertino. From 1999 through 2011 I was employed first for two years working with Oracle databases, then for eight years performing low-level programming (5-years in Unix, 3-years in a web app using Jscript). In addition to writing my own code, I was responsible for QAing what other programmers had written.

Now, I’m a little old lady with a great big Mac (and some iOS devices). I think I can parlay my experience into doing beta testing for developer’s applications. Upon my return home from the Release Notes conference I began sketching out a business plan; I’ll have more on that in another post. In the meantime, I’m ready to do some testing.

@cincygolfgrrl

Untested Beta

“So, where are you from?” he said.

I looked up at the speaker — late–20s, curly dark hair, and a few days past his last encounter with a razor. “Cincinnati,” I said. “You?”

“Boston.”

We’re nerds at October’s Release Notes conference in Indianapolis, each checking to see if the other was a potential customer. He develops apps and I’m looking for beta test work. It’s a match, maybe.

That scene played itself out multiple times over the course of a two-day conference, where eleven speakers shared experiences building applications and businesses with over 140 attendees, many of them my heroes. Here I am in the midst of an Upgrade sandwich.

Myke Hurley (l) and Jason Snell

Initially I registered for the conference to meet people I hold in high-esteem. But the conference was about building businesses, and lately I’ve had an itch I wanted to scratch. Sitting around with nothing to do in the winter is boring, and bad for my health.

After some soul-searching, the concept of beta testing exploded out of my brain. During my two years at a dot-com start-up, I’d done my share of testing. Then I spent eight years at a market research company where half my job was QAing the work of other programmers. I’m experienced!

I went to the conference with loosely formed ideas. When asked why I was attending I struggled to get through my “origin” story; I did not have an elevator pitch. Thankfully, by the end of the week I’d edited myself to, “I’m starting a beta test business.”

Now I’m thinking about business plans, marketing strategies, and the processes of doing best-in-class beta testing. Presenters and attendees shared their knowledge. Now it’s up to me to make this happen.

The New MacBook

This past Monday, March 9, Apple held a press event in San Francisco where, as expected, they introduced the Apple Watch. What wasn’t on everyone’s radar was a new MacBook.

Despite pundit claims to the contrary, the new MacBook is clearly not an upgrade of the MacBook Air. Even though it has brilliant new features such as the “tactic” trackpad and “butterfly” keys, the “M” processor is significantly less powerful than i5 in the least capable MBA. Existing MacBook users would be sorely disappointed if they replaced their current notebooks with the new device.

Although Apple hasn’t said so, I think the new MacBook is intended as an entry level computer for those who have never used a Mac but have a fondness the iPhone and iPad. People in this category won’t miss peripherals because they’ve never had them. The retina screen will be completely familiar to those whose only prior Apple hardware has been iOS devices.

The trackpad and keyboard advances will make their way into the existing MacBook line. I’ll be happy to have them when it’s time to replace my 11-inch Air.